WASHINGTON Feb 3 More than 1,200 Army
recruiters and assistants are under investigation on suspicion
of fraud involving tens of millions of dollars from a program
aimed at boosting recruitment during the Iraq war, according to
papers released on Monday by a congressional panel.
One person, now under prosecution, was fraudulently paid
$275,000 under the recruitment program, and four other top
recipients received more than $100,000 apiece, documents from a
panel of the Senate Homeland Security committee said.
The Financial and Contracting Oversight Subcommittee,
chaired by Senator Claire McCaskill, was scheduled to hold a
hearing on Tuesday to address the case, which it described as
"one of the largest fraud investigations" Army investigators
have ever handled in size and numbers of people involved.
Investigators have begun a review of "all 106,364
individuals who received money" from the Recruiting Assistant
Program, the panel said. Investigations are expected to continue
through 2016, the panel said.
The Army declined to comment on the case. Senior Army
officials were due to testify at the hearing, including the
service's top auditor, investigator and staff director.
The recruiting program was initiated in 2005 at the height
of the Iraq war to address an enlistment shortfall in the Army
National Guard. The program paid members of the guard and others
who were approved as assistants between $2,000 and $7,500 for
referring people who eventually joined the state-based militia.
The program was successful in helping the Guard reach its
recruitment levels and was eventually adopted as well by the
Army Reserve and the active duty Army.
Recruiters whose job was to locate new service members were
not meant to be eligible for the payments, according to
documents from the subcommittee. But effective controls were not
in place to prevent that from happening, the document said.
After reports of potential fraud in 2007, the Army Audit
Agency examined the program and found that 705 recruiters were
linked to payments with a high risk for fraud. Criminal
investigators had looked into 21 of those cases and confirmed
fraud, the agency said in an audit report.
Another 551 recruiters were linked to payments with a medium
risk for fraud, and 2,022 people who had registered as recruiter
assistants received payments that potentially violated the
program's rules, the audit said.
(Reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Ken Wills)